Labour still thinks spending, not results, is what matters

Stuff reports:

Finance spokesman Grant Robertson mental health funding  was one of the “yawning gaps” in the health system. 

Labour figures showed his party increased health spending by an average of 8.1 per cent, while National had increased it by 3.4 per cent, he said.

“In the real world, that means people are not getting the surgeries they need, they’re not getting access to the mental health system, they’re not getting primary health care they need.” 

Health spokesman Annette King said Labour would fund health properly.

This sums up pretty much everything that is wrong with Labour. They think that what matters most is spending more money – rather than what that money actually achieves.

According to Labour, if DHBs manage to reduce their property costs by say $200 million, then that is bad as that is $200 million less spending. If DHBs save $100 million on accountants and increase spending on doctors by $50 million then Labour thinks this is bad because that is overall less spending.

I’m not sure Labour will ever get that what matters is results, not spending. Of course you need spending to achieve some things, but claiming an 8% annual increase in health spending is better than a 4% increase is focused on the wrong thing.

The reality is that almost every significant health indicator is better now than in 2008. A few are:

  • Youth smoking rates halved
  • Youth hazardous drinking rates halved
  • 100% of cancer patients now getting timely treatment, compared to 65% under Labour
  • 94% of patients being seen within six hours at ED, up from 70%
  • A 42% increase in the number of elective surgeries
  • An 18% increase in nurses and 27% increase in doctors
  • Immunisation rates up from 76% to 94%

Now if you go back to what Labour achieved despite their massive spending increases, well the answer will be not much. In fact the number of elective surgeries declined from 2000 to 2006.

Here’s the challenge for Labour. Don’t come up with a policy of simply promising more spending. Make a commitment on some outcomes.

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